It’s Only Getting Better

8.10.10 -Telluride (Wendy Rogell)

In a start-to-finish massacre, Phish took New York by storm last night, dropping a two-set showcase that oozed creativity all night long. Opening with “Fluffhead” for the first time since Hampton, last night in Jones Beach had a special feel early on. And once they started, they simply never stopped, playing a show with no lulls whatsoever, and some of the most impressive full-band improv we’ve heard this tour. Over this summer, the entire band has gelled as a whole in large part due to the re-evolution of Trey Anastasio. During last night’s second set, our front man never fell back on cliched phrasings or licks, pushing himself by playing intricate leads woven into the fabric of the jams instead of wailing away on top of them. Illustrated throughout the second set, Big Red is back an ready for business, and as Trey goes, so does Phish – a sign of positive things to come. After listening back to this second set after the show, it became quickly apparent that the band has only brighter days ahead. That full-on sense of balls-to-the-wall Phish creativity overtook the metro area last night it hadn’t in a long time.

Official Jones Beach Poster

The first set brought as much heat as any, featuring non-stop action and several, smoking structured jams. While the band struggled through more than a few parts of “Fluffhead,” the shock-value opener had everyone flying high from the get go, and as the band tackled “Kill Devil Falls,” they had hit the ground running. After a slower take on their new-school track, the set took a decided turn for the old-school in a devastating run of songs that speaks for itself. “Cities,” “Funky Bitch,” “Wilson,” Reba,” “Walk Away,” “Wolfman’s,” “Possum.” And that was the entire set. With tightly-wound and full-on playing throughout each and every song, the band clearly clicked from moment one and their connection carried throughout the night. Though non-stop action ran through the entire frame, and Trey had some fun with a toy guitar during “Wilson,” the indelible moments of groove came in “Cities,” “Reba,” and “Wolfman’s.” While “Cities” didn’t approach Greek status, it did bring liquid textures to the opening frame and provided an idyllic lead-in for a stellar “Reba.” Within the context of this one jam, it is hard to say who stood out the most, a tell-tale sign of an awesome effort by the Phish. Trey’s intricate ideas, Mike and Fishman’s delicate pocket, and Page’s rolling pastures of piano rolled into blissful magic carpet ride over Long Island Sound. Topping the set with a fierce triumvirate of “Walk Away” – with the new end groove, a swank “Wolfman’s” and blistering “Possum,” the band blazed a first set trail of fire that would only grow hotter come the second half.

8.10.10 (W.Rogell)

Building on the retro-vibe that permeated the opening stanza, Phish stepped onstage and opened the second set with “Lengthwise > Maze.” Placing “Lengthwise” in a significant slot for the first time in ages, this version was more than novelty as Fishman coaxed the song into “Maze,” evoking the psychedelia of the early ’90s. Another obliterating version of the renewed song kicked of the second set, giving an nod to the two other scintillating “Mazes” from August. Using “Halley’s” as a launchpad into an overstuffed “Mike’s Groove,” Phish sandwiched four creative jams within their musical suite, and one became an instant classic that sits along the many top-shelf offerings from August 2010.

While Phish tore apart a succinct “Mike’s,” once they segued into “Simple” the musical adventure truly began. Taking the second consecutive “Simple” jam down an original path, Phish broke through into quasi-digital territory as the entire band came together with notes that wrapped around each other in an ethereal, cyclical pattern. Fishman’s outstanding progress throughout this summer was evidenced in the morphing, delicate backdrops provided for this excursion, not to mention his work on every jam in the show. Pushing themselves out of the box, Phish seemed primed to explore new places last night as they moved into the usually-benign “Backwards Down the Number Line.” But last night was a different story all together.

8.7.10 (W.Rogell)

In the song’s short history, Phish has now blown out the song exactly four times. But differing from ’09’s versions in Chicago and SPAC, and Blossom’s secret mission in June, last night’s summer highlight actually built out of the “Number Line” jam, itself, as opposed to dropping into a completely separate realm to explore. Taking the song’s actual theme on a ride like never before, all four members of the band played as fluidly and creatively as they have all summer in crafting an immediate epic. Riding through a multi-faceted odyssey, the band once again crafted an forward looking piece of collective patience and acumen. As the jam organically progressed through many blossoms of beauty, the band subtly teased “Maze” more than a few times, en route to a spectacular second set centerpiece. Once again, all members shone amidst this jam, crawling through creative wormholes like all major Phish jams should. Fishman’s break-neck and ever-changing beats on this piece reminded us of a troll of old; one who has crawled out from under the bridge and began using his kit like a rhythmic romper room once again. This jam is a true benchmark of Phish’s progress this summer; get in on your headphones now.

8.13.10 (M.Stein)

Coming down beautifully into “Caspian,” Trey took a minimalist perspective on this joint, knitting a jam with low key licks instead of wailing in traditional fashion. The band followed his lead and laid back in a divergent and refreshing take on the second-set anthem. Likening his playing throughout the set, Trey wove creative lead melodies into the fabric of the music in an ego-less display of axemanship. Instead of finishing the song, the band’s creativity led them outwards into a musical doily that brought memories of Phil and Friend’s version at the Warfield of April ’99. Transforming the open jam into “Rock and Roll,” Phish finally used the eternal set-opener in a far more spontaneous placement. Riding the jam into a legitimate shred session, the band took the cover on an adrenalized mid-set jaunt. After an extended period of psychedelia, “Rock and Roll” gave the show a shot of energy in the form of a searing throw down. And lest anything be standard last night, the band took their cover for a rollicking ride before coming back to the refrain that soon morphed into a vocal-ambient bridge into “Weekapaug.”

8.10.10 (G.Lucas)

Capping the “Mike’s Sandwich” with a totally original “Weekapaug,” Phish proved again that they are looking for new ways to go about things. Much like “Caspian,” Trey left his signature solos behind in favor of more intricate, yet shredding, leads that kept the show pumping with new ideas. This type of playing facilitates more full band interplay, as Trey, himself, brings far more original ideas to the table. Getting straight percussive on the jam, this “Weekapaug” entered a furious territory that we haven’t seen from the song, despite its summer revival. Often putting a lens of their most successful pieces of the summer, one couldn’t help think about the new life that has been breathed into the “Weekapaug” while listening to, perhaps, the greatest version of the season. Punctuating the frame with a “Loving Cup” that simply slayed, Phish had just finished quite the set of music.

Hitting on all cylinders from Alpine, and moving full-speed into Jones Beach, Phish are certainly hitting a new stride as this tour comes to an end – a beautiful omen for fall. With only one show left on their summer slate all signs point to a mid-week blowout tonight at Jones Beach for the tour finale. With a clean slate and their only east coast audience of the month, anything is possible. And based on how Phish played last night, the possibilities are endless. If we are looking at concerts at games, last night was a huge win for the Phish, and tomorrow they look to sweep their twin bill in the Big Apple. Be there…

I: Fluffhead, Kill Devil Falls, Cities, Funky Bitch, Wilson*, Reba, Walk Away, Wolfman’s Brother, Possum

II: Lengthwise > Maze, Halley’s Comet > Mike’s Song > Simple > Backwards Down the Number Line > Prince Caspian > Rock and Roll > Weekapaug Groove, Loving Cup

E: Show of Life, Golgi Apparatus

* w/ toy guitar

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1,354 Responses to “It’s Only Getting Better”

  1. tela'smuff Says:

    what’s on cue for tonight? Light, Tweez, Ghost, Seven Below, Piper, Sand, Antelope, Stash, Gin, Bowie!

    wowza. tonight could drop JB into the sea.

  2. El Duderino Says:

    Sea and Sand would be sweet!

  3. Robear Says:

    trey probably started thinking about the ‘Fluff came to New York’ line, half way between Alpine and Jones Beach. Listen to him giggle as he tries to say the verse. 🙂

    hey brother, second jam out of ‘Mikes’ @ Coventry.

  4. angryjoggerz Says:

    Dog log, liquid time, light

  5. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    you guys had leftover beers??? we finished 3 24 packs

  6. Robear Says:

    On deck for tonight:

    Summer of ’89

    Big Red is back an ready for business, and as Trey goes, so does Phish, says miner.
    yep. think we agree on that one.

  7. El Duderino Says:

    @ DF

    It was so fucking hot I really couldn’t drink.

    Mikey drank a handle of Captain though

  8. El Duderino Says:

    ‘as Trey goes, so does Phish, ”

    This is stating the obvious though.
    Been this way since the beginning of time

  9. Selector J Says:

    @silly Totally sucks, man. It’s a terrible feeling when you start pointing your car in the opposite direction of where you want to go.
    fyi, NORML has all the state laws in detail. Here is Pennsylvania’s.

  10. BrandonKayda Says:

    Damn Trey just tears up that Rock and Roll from last night

  11. Guyute711 Says:

    Yeah Df, I had 30 High Life’s but the Captain had my number hence the leftovers.

  12. Selector J Says:

    During Fluff, love the “Check this out” lines.
    Is that Cactus?

    KDF is such a tight little tune. I know all of the KDF haterz secretly love it… 😉

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    It sounded like they were going back into KDF during the peak in Rock and Roll

  14. spasm waiter Says:

    Willow- great meeting you at the towern thanks for hosting the tailgate. Great to meet mitch, frankie,neemor, jdub, palmer, sumodie, and more. We got so rewarded last night. Wouldn’t change a thing. Maybe encores but who in there right mind could complain after that set.

  15. BigNasty Says:

    ^RnR: Maze then KDF ….I heard it too

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    re: living the highlife at shows

    our breakthrough was at the Gorge in 03

    my wife had camped at the Gorge both separately before we met, and together in ’99, and (except when it’s hot) the Gorge campground is about as fun as it gets

    but in 03 we did the hotel instead and I’m never going back

    jetted hot tubs…lake view off the deck…breakfast buffet with the band and crew (coincidence – and no Page does not have hot pockets for breakfast, though I can report that he does like pancakes)

    It wasn’t super spendy or anything

    since then we’ve been about doing shows in style

    the Berkeley house was kind of the apex of that….


    poutine is fucking great stuff, man. One of hte late night drunk-food carts in PDX serves a wicked poutine…in PDX style they also offer a vegan gravy which by meatless friends assure me is also great….

  17. jdub Says:

    Great advice this morning Dude. And yeah a shower after the nap sounds about right.

    They seemingly Maze, Possum, and a KDF reprise in that RnR. All within the RnR jam structure. Haven’t listened back yet and am curious to hear how it sounds on replay.

  18. spasm waiter Says:

    Miased the maze tease but surely heard the kdf.

  19. El Duderino Says:

    After looking at the NORML site with the Penn. laws -vs- NC laws…

    I tell ya’ I’m glad I live in NC for the SE region of the U.S.

    Keep it under 1.5 oz and your fine.

    Sell under 10lbs and you’re pretty much fine

  20. dognamedwilson Says:


    I, for one, love kdf; but it seems I love all the tunes that the cool kids disdain (note the careful use of language there).

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    let’s have a fat Twist for SOAM tonight, y’all

    that DC one is pretty nice

    wow @Dude, no I had not looked at all those pics…you got some classic stuff up there

  22. angryjoggerz Says:

    I guess I am so used to travelling internationally by myself that is is even jarring to wake up with other people in the hotel (if they are not my wife and daughter… they are very welcomed any time). Phish is and expensive habit. Speaking of, can we get some destination shows? I vote Hawaiian island tour or maybe some US Virgin Islands (this still counts as USA, right, so Trey can go?)

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    “you guys had leftover beers??? we finished 3 24 packs”

    wow, you really are canadian, huh?

  24. El Duderino Says:

    When the SLF has done Phish road trips she insists on Hotels only. I don’t blame her at all. She’s a chick who likes the finer things in life.

  25. angryjoggerz Says:

    My next phase of Phish travel will involve choosing locations where I can take my wife and kid, do interesting and fun things with them during the day, then duck out and hit the show. I think the Greek run would have been good for that, next time I would like to make a week out if it and spend some time in wine country or something.

    See, I am old.

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